Top 10 Linux Easter Eggs
Not a Definitive List…
Often, when you log into your Linux VPS, you are looking to get some work done. However, no one can claim that the thousands of developers who create the software available on a typical Linux machine are always completely serious.
Linux has a history of including some fun “easter eggs” in its software. In this article, we’ll tell you about some fun commands and options to lighten up your day. Not all of them are “easter eggs”, but we think you’ll enjoy them none-the-less.
Vim and Douglas Adams
Those of you familiar with Douglas Adams, writer of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, will appreciate a relevant help option included in the vim text editor.
If you haven’t already, install vim. In Ubuntu/Debian, you can type:
sudo apt-get install vim
In CentOS/Fedora, you can type:
sudo yum install vim
Open the editor from the command line:
Type the following to access a special vim help menu:
What is the meaning of life, the universe and everything? *42* Douglas Adams, the only person who knew what this question really was about is now dead, unfortunately. So now you might wonder what the meaning of death is...
Type the following, twice, to exit vim:
Not to be outdone, Emacs, the text-editor famous for including everything but the kitchen sink, includes a surprising number of games that can be accessed from within the editor itself.
First, install emacs. On Ubunut/Debian, this would be:
sudo apt-get install emacs
On CentOS/Fedora, execute this command instead:
sudo yum install emacs
You can find out what games are available by checking out this directory:
cd /usr/share/emacs/*/lisp/play ls
5x5.elc decipher.elc gametree.elc meese.elc spook.elc animate.elc dissociate.elc gomoku.elc morse.elc studly.elc blackbox.elc doctor.elc handwrite.elc mpuz.elc tetris.elc bruce.el dunnet.elc hanoi.elc pong.elc yow.elc bubbles.elc fortune.elc landmark.elc snake.elc zone.elc cookie1.elc gamegrid.elc life.elc solitaire.elc
To execute them, open Emacs:
Next, type the
Esc key, followed by
x (for execute), and then type the name of the game you wish to start:
To quit Emacs when you are finished, type
Ctrl, followed by
x, and then
On Ubuntu and Debian, the
apt-get package manager has had an embedded easter egg for a long time now.
If you type the help command for apt-get, you will get a hint:
. . . . . . -c=? Read this configuration file -o=? Set an arbitrary configuration option, eg -o dir::cache=/tmp See the apt-get(8), sources.list(5) and apt.conf(5) manual pages for more information and options. This APT has Super Cow Powers.
The last line tells us that the easter egg is active in this version of apt. Type:
(__) (oo) /------\/ / | || * /\---/\ ~~ ~~ ...."Have you mooed today?"...
With apt-get’s affinity for cows, users may be curious as to whether
aptitude, another apt tool, also implements a fun easter egg.
We can check the help like before:
. . . . . . -u Download new package lists on startup. (terminal interface only) -i Perform an install run on startup. (terminal interface only) This aptitude does not have Super Cow Powers.
Well that is disappointing. Let’s try it anyways though:
There are no Easter Eggs in this program.
A fairly straight forward answer. But persistence is important. Let’s add some verbosity:
aptitude -v moo
There really are no Easter Eggs in this program.
aptitude -vv moo
Didn't I already tell you that there are no Easter Eggs in this program?
If you keep adding more “verbosity”, you will eventually get this:
aptitude -vvvvv moo
All right, you win. /----\ -------/ \ / \ / | -----------------/ --------\ ----------------------------------------------
It doesn’t look like too much. Let’s add another “v”:
aptitude -vvvvvv moo
What is it? It's an elephant being eaten by a snake, of course.
This is a reference to the book The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.
Strange Options for Common Programs
There are some strange options available in some common programs that you may wish to check out.
Insult Users with Sudo
You can configure
sudo, used to elevate the privileges of a command, to insult users when they type in an incorrect password.
To do so, edit the sudoers file with a tool called
visudo, which edits and validates modifications to the sudo configuration file.
Near the top, add a line that reads:
Save and close the file.
Next, empty the cache that stores your password for a certain amount of time and then mistype your password for a sudo command:
sudo -k sudo ls
[sudo] password for demo: # Type an incorrect password here Have you considered trying to match wits with a rutabaga? [sudo] password for demo: My pet ferret can type better than you! [sudo] password for demo: Wrong! You cheating scum!
Script Kiddie Output for Nmap
Nmap is a commonly used network exploration tool that can be used to perform security audits on your system.
Install it on Ubuntu/Debian with the following command:
sudo apt-get install nmap
On CentOS/Fedora, install it by entering:
sudo yum install nmap
Nmap provides you with the unusual option of being able to output its data in “script kiddie” format.
Let’s see what the normal output looks like first, by running the command against the Nmap website itself:
Starting Nmap 5.21 ( http://nmap.org ) at 2013-09-18 17:43 UTC Nmap scan report for scanme.nmap.org (184.108.40.206) Host is up (0.072s latency). Not shown: 998 closed ports PORT STATE SERVICE 22/tcp open ssh 80/tcp open http Nmap done: 1 IP address (1 host up) scanned in 1.40 seconds
Now, let’s enable the alternate output with these options:
nmap -oS - scanme.nmap.org
$tart|ng NMap 5.21 ( http://Nmap.org ) at 2013-09-18 17:45 UTC Nmap $cAn r3p0rt F0r scanM3.nmaP.oRg (220.127.116.11) Ho$t 1z Up (0.071z laT3ncy). Not sh0wN: 998 cl0$Ed p0rt$ POrT ST4TE $ERV!C3 22/tcp opEn Ssh 80/tcP 0p3n HtTp Nmap d0n3: 1 iP AddrESz (1 h0$t Up) $canNed !n 1.34 secondz
Basically, it replaces certain letters with similar looking characters to emulate “hacker” language or leet-speak.
Command-line Star Wars
There are two different network-reachable, command line Star Wars tributes accessible from your terminal.
ASCII Art Star Wars Through Telnet
Simon Jansen, Sten Spans, and Mike Edwards created a full Star Wars tribute in ASCII (text) animated art accessible through telnet. In layman’s terms: you can watch a text version of Star Wars in your terminal!
telnet, a precursor to SSH, if it is not already installed:
sudo apt-get install telnet
sudo yum install telnet
All you have to do from here is point telnet to the correct server:
/~\ R2-D2! |oo ) Where are you? # _\=/_ # \\ / _ \ // \\//|/.\|\\// \/ \_/ \/ |\ /| \_ _/ | | | | | | | | | | _______________________________/_]_[_\_____________________________
When you’ve had enough, hold
]. You will be given a prompt where you can type “close”:
Star Wars Traceroute
A newer tribute to Star Wars has been achieved by Ryan Werber by naming the network hops to a specific address.
If you run
traceroute, a program that traces the path of packets to a remote host, you will see the intro to Star Wars in the network names along the way.
traceroute -m 254 -q1 obiwan.scrye.net
The route will begin to populate. After a few stops, you will begin to see the magic:
. . . . . . 15 Episode.IV (18.104.22.168) 77.506 ms 16 A.NEW.HOPE (22.214.171.124) 87.194 ms 17 It.is.a.period.of.civil.war (126.96.36.199) 77.699 ms 18 Rebel.spaceships (188.8.131.52) 78.171 ms 19 striking.from.a.hidden.base (184.108.40.206) 87.624 ms 20 have.won.their.first.victory (220.127.116.11) 86.249 ms 21 against.the.evil.Galactic.Empire (18.104.22.168) 77.505 ms 22 During.the.battle (22.214.171.124) 85.622 ms 23 Rebel.spies.managed (126.96.36.199) 78.121 ms 24 to.steal.secret.plans (188.8.131.52) 77.049 ms . . . . . .
After going through the introductions to Episodes IV, V, and VI, Ryan then continues with other avenues of entertainment:
99 Were.no.strangers.to.love (184.108.40.206) 77.472 ms 100 You.know.the.rules.and.so.do.I (220.127.116.11) 78.054 ms 101 A.full.commitments.what.Im.thinking.of (18.104.22.168) 78.512 ms 102 I.just.wanna.tell.you.how.Im.feeling (22.214.171.124) 79.884 ms 103 Gotta.make.you.understand (126.96.36.199) 79.427 ms 104 Never.gonna.give.you.up (188.8.131.52) 77.032 ms 105 Never.gonna.let.you.down (184.108.40.206) 78.909 ms 106 Never.gonna.run.around.and.desert.you (220.127.116.11) 80.286 ms
Installing More Fun
There are a few programs that you probably don’t need for any other purpose, but can be fun if you have some time.
Learn from your Typos
If you’ve ever accidentally typed
sl when you meant to list a directory’s contents with
ls, then you may want to install a program “sl”.
sudo apt-get install sl
sudo yum install sl
Now, whenever you accidentally type “sl” instead of “ls”, you’ll have to smile:
( ) (@@) ( ) (@) () @@ O @ O @ (@@@) ( ) (@@@@) ( ) ==== ________ ___________ _D _| |_______/ \__I_I_____===__|_________| |(_)--- | H\________/ | | =|___ ___| _________________ / | | H | | | | ||_| |_|| _| \___ | | | H |__--------------------| [___] | =| | ________|___H__/__|_____/~\_______| | -| |/ | |-----------I_____I   D |=======|____|______________________ __/ =| o |=-~~\ /~~\ /~~\ /~~\ ____Y___________|__|________________________ |/-=|___|=O=====O=====O=====O |_____/~\___/ |_D__D__D_| |_D__D__D \_/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \_/ \_/ \_/ \_/ \
A train will chug across your screen each time.
Fun with Cowsay and Fortune
If you need some more cheap amusement at the command line, and didn’t get your fill of cows from the “apt” easter egg, you can download
sudo apt-get install fortune cowsay
sudo yum install fortune cowsay
Cowsay inserts any input into a word bubble and draws an ASCII cow to talk to you:
cowsay "hello, I'm a cow"
__________________ < hello, I'm a cow > ------------------ \ ^__^ \ (oo)\_______ (__)\ )\/\ ||----w | || ||
The fortune program spits out quotations, fortunes, jokes, nonsense that can be piped into cowsay:
fortune | cowsay
________________________________________ / Q: What looks like a cat, flies like a \ | bat, brays like a donkey, and | | | \ plays like a monkey? A: Nothing. / ---------------------------------------- \ ^__^ \ (oo)\_______ (__)\ )\/\ ||----w | || ||
If you’re not too fond of cows, you can get other characters as well:
fortune | cowsay -f tux
_____________________________________ / You never know how many friends you \ | have until you rent a house on the | \ beach. / ------------------------------------- \ \ .--. |o_o | |:_/ | // \ \ (| | ) /'\_ _/`\ \___)=(___/
For a full list of the available characters, type:
Cow files in /usr/share/cowsay/cows: apt beavis.zen bong bud-frogs bunny calvin cheese cock cower daemon default dragon dragon-and-cow duck elephant elephant-in-snake eyes flaming-sheep ghostbusters gnu head-in hellokitty kiss kitty koala kosh luke-koala mech-and-cow meow milk moofasa moose mutilated pony pony-smaller ren sheep skeleton snowman sodomized-sheep stegosaurus stimpy suse three-eyes turkey turtle tux unipony unipony-smaller vader vader-koala www
My personal favorite is the stegosaurus:
fortune | cowsay -f stegosaurus
_________________________________________ / Q: What lies on the bottom of the ocean \ \ and twitches? A: A nervous wreck. / ----------------------------------------- \ . . \ / `. .' " \ .---. < > < > .---. \ | \ \ - ~ ~ - / / | _____ ..-~ ~-..-~ | | \~~~\.' `./~~~/ --------- \__/ \__/ .' O \ / / \ " (_____, `._.' | } \/~~~/ `----. / } | / \__/ `-. | / | / `. ,~~| ~-.__| /_ - ~ ^| /- _ `..-' | / | / ~-. `-. _ _ _ |_____| |_____| ~ - . _ _ _ _ _>
As you can see, not very useful, but pretty fun.
This guide probably didn’t impart any essential knowledge or improve your Linux abilities, but hopefully it helped you relax and perhaps even explore your system a little bit.
Let us know in the comments if you have any other good easter eggs or unusual, fun commands.